Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
Veteran star Elizabeth Oropesa gets her best latter-day role as the widowed Mrs. Ventura, ensconced in an inherited house in Manila. She lives there, but her mind is usually elsewhere, fixated on Sonny Boy, her long-lost son who left to fight in Mindanao as a political activist; she doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive. Some of her time is spent fending off her needy sister, who’d like the house to be sold, but her more immediate problems are cracked walls (earthquake damage) and her live-in home-help Delia (Lotlot De Leon), who’d like to keep her job and her free accommodation despite being pregnant and not yet married. For an old lady whose mind is elsewhere, these small everyday problems mount up.
There are distant echoes of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? in Adolfo Alix’s powerful drama, especially in the central relationship between Mrs. V and Delia, but it’s not what you’d call a horror film. Alix is unusual among the Filipino directors of his generation, much less committed to low-life melodramas than most and able to tailor his visual style to the specific needs of his subjects and scripts. Here, he opts for a slightly heightened realism with understated elements of fantasy. It’s not a horror movie, but there will be blood.
— Tony Rayns